One Day

📅 Published on October 15, 2023

“One Day”

Written by Dale Thompson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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Milton was making his rounds through the old facility, which housed the lunatics and those who were deemed too dangerous or unstable for the community.  In this psychiatric hospital, this lunatic asylum, this mental institution or, as others endearingly called it, ‘the sanitarium,’ Milton was seeing its service recipients one by one.  Milton had no office, just his clipboard, a notebook, and a well-sharpened #2 pencil, not to mention a stethoscope.

These irreclaimable, involuntarily committed, ill-behaved patients with their diagnosis of borderline personality disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, PTSD, and depression (and not limited to substance use disorders) were all housed neatly together, collectively in this infrastructure and organization designed to not only keep the residence of the facility situated in a controlled environment, but also to keep the confined from making their way into society, where disturbances would certainly transpire due to the torrential, irrepressible loss of control which would occur if the patients failed to take their medicine on time.  Ungoverned and unmonitored, those who lacked the ability of consistent, rational thinking had proven they were unable to coexist with the public at large.  This is the very reason that within “Comfort House,” people inside regained a part of humanity that was lost to them on the outside, thus bringing a sense of virtue, ethics, and morality back into their lives.  Religion and spiritual beliefs were not encouraged as much as the science of getting well in an environment designed to bridal the behavior and bring a sense of compassion, empathy, and altruism into their lives.

A placard was posted on the wall of the recreational hall, which was a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.  It read, “Every person must decide at some point whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

Milton approached the residence of ‘Comfort House’ with a soft touch, a kind manner and an ease that was never obtrusive, pushy, or aggressive and with a stethoscope dangling from around his neck.  He had studied the patients and understood their habitual quirks and their severe mannerisms, knowing that each personality was different.  Some were excessive and severe, and everything to them was exaggerated to the point of madness.  This is where the pills came in.  One pill to sleep, one pill to wake, one pill to eat, one pill to digest the food and one pill to defecate.  Without the lovely treatments, maniacal lunacy would be the prevailing doctrine, and these characters would show the appalling, inhuman side of themselves, and this was never pretty.  The pills kept everyone tranquil, steady, controlled.  Moderate and managed approaches curved the possible menace of behavioral outbreak because without the treatment, malevolence would be unstoppable.

Milton kindly sat in front of Harold, a patient that, even with the medicines, was unable to harness his utterances and force back guttural sounds.  So, he would sit with these tics, earning him the appellation of ‘Noise Boy.’  No one but Milton called him Harold.  He was simply ‘Noise Boy’ to everyone, including the staff.

“How are you today?” Milton leaned in toward Harold, who refused to make eye contact.

“Better today.  Better today,” Harold repeated, twisting his arms up to his chest and around his body as if he were shielding it.

“What happened yesterday?” Milton licked the tip of his pencil and prepared to jot down some notes.

“Yesterday, I saw them,” Harold was sounding out his words with hard enunciation.

“Was it the shadow people?” Milton asked as he pressed the pencil to paper.

“Yes, they gave me the impression that my time was short.”  Harold seemed thought stricken, frozen upon saying those words, those four words, “My time is short.”

“I agree with your sentiment that ‘time is short,’ but Harold, time on earth is short for everyone.  This life is ephemeral, momentary, fleeting even, so do not believe your view of life is any different than the rest of us.  We are in the evanescent life cycle.  We are the fugitives fleeing one place to occupy another space elsewhere when this life ends.  Do not believe in the finality of life.  Think of your life as a transition greater than yourself, and once you gain a comprehensive grasp on your own importance, you will see the shadow people are not there to harm you, but to help you, to guide and direct you.”  Milton stood and patted Harold on the shoulder as Harold looked up at him with hopeful eyes.

“All better now?” Milton asked.

“Yes, better,” Harold answered as he looked away again, as if a dream had caught his attention and he wanted to absorb it, remember it before it scurried away out of thought.

Milton left Harold in his reverie and focussed his attention on a little old lady whose gossamer threaded hoary head practically shined under the illumination where she sat content in her wheelchair.

“Margaret!  How are we today?” Milton asked as he sat across from her at the table where she had been knitting.

With an avaricious move, she snatched her knitting off the table as if Milton had unscrupulous intent.

“Mine,” she sheltered the creation of fabric as if through some vainglorious act Milton was interested in robbing her.

“Oh, no, Margaret, I am not here because I want to take anything from you.  I know the knitting belongs to you.  I can make no claim on it,” Milton reassured her.

With a simpering smile, Margaret eased the fabric back on the table.  The significance of her submission was a real breakthrough, and Milton knew it.  Just the day before, she found such comfort and relevancy in her work that she hoarded it against herself and never let it go. This craft was substance to her soul, a significant effort on her part to stay connected with the life she had before being brought to the institution.  Margaret had been remanded here many years ago after bludgeoning her husband and young son to death in a fit of uncontrolled, accelerated rage.  The judge admitted that Margaret had snapped, but he also deemed her not fit for normal prison life due to her diminished capacity to understand right and wrong.

“Would you like to touch it?” Margaret lightly placed her hand on the fabric and gave it a nudge toward Milton, who saw this munificent gesture as a sign of real progress.  He made a note of it but refused to touch the fabric.

“It is okay.  It will not bite you.  Feel how soft,” Margaret encouraged him again, but Milton wanted to stick with his protocol and convictions and did not want to jinx this significant breakthrough.  He wrote down some comprehensive notes, thanked her for the offer and said, “I think it is important that you finish the piece before allowing people to touch it.  Keep it pure and consequent.  Once it is finished, you can show it off to everyone.

Margaret seemed to reason this advice.  “Do you know what it is going to be when it is finished?” she asked.

Milton looked at the piece.  In all reality, he had no idea.  If it were a hat, it was malformed; if a top, it had no arms.  He had no clue because it was unremarkable, immaterial, yet he guessed anyway to appease her.  “Is it going to be a dress?”

Disparity dimmed her eyes, and Milton believed he had misspoken and something sorely imminent was coming next.

Margaret imparted a smile and said, without descanting or illustration, “Heaven’s man, and you call yourself a doctor.”

She then uttered something unintelligible under her breath, which to Milton sounded like the word “amateur,” but he could not be sure.

“It is going to be a medicinal robe.  You know, for protection against the nightmares.  I have been in fear, like being trapped in the catalepsy of a nightmare.  It has been the most unpleasant of times for me.  I am tired of wrestling with it.  I am too old, and it is too difficult, and I am losing sleep to this foul incubus.”

“Sorry to hear about this.  Is it possible a drug such as benzodiazepine or melatonin could be prescribed to aid you in your sleep?” Milton wrote down the word ‘sleep apnea’ next to her name.

“I was given Ambien; that only made it worse.  Firstly, it made my skin crawl; they called it formication.  Secondly, I was sleepwalking.  My body burned; it itched, and my legs were numb.  I do not do well with sleep aids, and when that incubus comes, I need to be wide awake.  He has taken a fancy to me, and I can only imagine what he really wants.”

Milton assured her he would procure her something that would help with all of that.  He called it a ‘medical cocktail,’ an ‘elixir’ just for her.

He left her sitting with her craft, and as he walked away from her, something in the background became turbulent and disordered.  A torrent of confusion ensued, followed by robust laughter, followed by the tumultuous slamming of chairs and the breaking of glass. The deluge of sound swept over him like a flood, and people began screaming and running. This is when Milton saw Lewis standing, holding a long shard of glass.  Blood was guttering down his forearm and onto the floor.

Lewis was a large, middle-aged man, wild-eyed and trembling, incapable of gaining his right mind.

“Don’t you hear them?”  He raised his voice.

By this time, two security officers had arrived but stopped in their tracks when Lewis’s lip curled up like a wild beast, and he swore loudly, “Come any closer, and I will cut your freaking heads off!” Two nurses entered behind them but seemed just as perplexed, waiting for security to act.

It was at this time, Brownie, an 80-year-old schizophrenic who had been sitting at the piano, began a recital of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.”  This melody seemed to incite others to become more aggressive.  Brownie seemed thrilled to the marrow with the attention.

Meanwhile, Lewis was unstrung with capsized memories of his past.  Brooding and disagreeable, he stomped his foot as if he had the power to cause the earth to quake.  When this did not happen, he tilted his head back as if he might do something permanent to himself.  There were shrieks as the room became even more charged with electricity.  Every eye, with the exception of Brownie’s, was riveted on the scene.  She had comported herself through a short-lived musical quest when it was shut down by one of the nurses who thought she was about to incite a full-blown riot.

The facility had just come out of a three-week lockdown after a similar incident.  Now, with the accelerated yammerings, inextinguishable mutterings and the ceaseless gibbering, Milton could hardly hear himself think.

Milton recognized immediately that neither of these barely post-teen security guards had the proper training to deal with such an explosive situation.  They were obviously out of their league, intimidated and insufficiently capable to tackle such a predicament.  ‘What a mess,’ he thought.  ‘What a horrific palava.’

Milton took a bold step forward and addressed Lewis.  He did not believe that Lewis was an evil man, for he knew he could be reasonable, yet the acts that had put him in this zoo had been dark and evil.  He came from a tainted pedigree, whore of a mother and a petty thief for a father.  “I hear them too, Lewis.  They do exist.  In your head and in my head.  Are they telling us the same things?  It is undiscernible, confusing, indefinable even, but I do not believe they are telling us to hurt anyone or ourselves.  Do you?”

Milton had hoped he had conveyed the right words to defuse this time bomb.  Something in Lewis yielded, and he became complacent and brushed his long bangs back from off his receding hairline.  He appeared as a man inebriated, but Milton knew there was no way he could have gained access to alcohol.

“What are the voices saying to you?  Maybe it is different because the creatures are not the same as the ones I hear,” Lewis asked.

With some exertion, Milton had to think fast.  He was not hearing voices at all, and the intricacies of these negotiations were delicate, to say the least.  Any impetuous reply may cause harm to Lewis and others.  Milton had really stepped in it now.  After contemplating, Milton said, “They have told me they have made a mistake.”

“A mistake?  I know what they are telling me.  I still hear them harping in my ears.  It hurts. It is painful.  Tell them to stop.”  Lewis sneered as he was surely becoming more vulnerable.

“What are they saying to you?” Milton saw the scene as becoming more ubiquitous by the moment, because Lewis had begun pacing like an animal in a cage.

“My head!  My head!” Lewis screamed at the floor, his body language showing signs of great, unmanageable stress.

“What are they telling you, Lewis?” Milton sounded like he was pleading with him.

Everyone else in the room stood helpless to step in.  Most were mortified, and the two security officers were simply observing.  Lewis was approaching the primal urge to go to the next level, and Milton could see it.

“They are telling me to take as many people with me as possible,” Lewis revealed.

“Take them where?” Milton asked, trying not to sound smart.

Things had redlined very quickly.  There was annoying chatter in the background, and people were becoming restless.  This volatile situation was ready to erupt.

In his dissemination, as his emotions spread like a plague, Lewis answered, “Out there!  I will take them out there.  With me.  Out there.”

“Lewis, listen to me.  There is no out there.  There is only in here, where you are safe.  You are safe in here.  Out there is dangerous.  You are protected and cared for in here.  You do not want to go out there.  The voices you hear are not your friends.  They are a distraction stopping you from happiness and fulfillment.”

Lewis seemed to have gained his composure.  He said, “Happiness.  Yes, happiness.”  He placed the shard of glass on the table, and this is when security, along with two nurses and a doctor, broke in and led Lewis out of the recreation hall.

“That was a close one,” a little voice of a man was heard standing beside Milton.

“Oh, Gary, you are next on my list to see.  Do you have a minute?” Milton asked as everything from this last episode faded into memory, and the day continued on.

“How have you been?  I have a report that angels are still visiting you at night?” Milton looked down at a blank sheet of paper.  At the top of the page, he penciled “GARY” in big bold letters.

“Not just angels.  Listen to this.  Something stupendous happened last night.  I have been wanting to share it with someone.  I was reluctant to say anything, but this is big, real big.  It is to be disbelieved, but I have to believe it because I lived it.”  Gary was a little man, balding terribly and was unhealthily thin.  His mouth was such that when he talked, it was fish-like, with protruding lips.

“A man could be banished for what I am about to tell you, even excommunicated.  It has to do with the church.”  Gary’s character was becoming more enthralled and animated as he spoke.  “You remember I am studiously devoted to my religion.”  Gary then made the sign of the cross.  “Forgive my build-up, but this is big,” he announced.

“Gary, you have known me a very long time.  You know you can share anything with me you feel you need to say.”  Milton frowned, for as he said this, the tip of his pencil broke, leaving a jagged tip of graphite.

“Excuse me one moment while I sharpen my pencil,” Milton said.  He quickly darted across the room, and in a desk drawer where most office supplies were kept (minus razors, scissors, and sharp things), he found a Love Sharpener and quickly restored the tip.  He returned to Gary, who looked like an abscess busting to burst.

Once Gary saw Milton was comfortably in front of him, he wasted no time.  “Judas.” Milton paused to understand what Gary meant, then asked, “What about Judas?  I assume we are talking about the disciple from the Bible?” “Yes.  Judas had an importunate nature.  He was not a deceiver; he was a pleaser,” Gary waited for Milton, but Milton listened without a word.

“Judas was only following instructions.  Jesus told Judas at the Last Supper, ‘What you must do, do it quickly.’  Jesus was ordering him to betray him.  Judas was commanded to turn Jesus in to the authorities.”

Milton asked, “How is it that you came to this revelation?” Gary struck a mingled expression of thoughtfulness and delight.  “Judas was a friend of Jesus, not an enemy, and I will tell you why.  People believe that the devil, Satan, was an angel that led a rebellion against heaven and then a war was fought between the angels of God and the fallen angels, which followed the devil in his insurrection.  That is B.S.  Remember Job?” Milton read very little of the Bible, but he was vaguely familiar with the story.

“In the Book of Job, God was having counsel with the sons of God, and who showed up to the meeting?”  Before Milton could answer, Gary jumped ahead.  “It was Satan.  Satan was there with the sons of God for the meeting.  If he were really a fallen angel, as some propose, how is it he got an invite to return to heaven, stand before God and actually dialogue?  I will tell you.  He was never an angel to begin with.  He masquerades as an angel, but in fact, angel or not, he is an agent of God.  God makes it rain on the just and the unjust.  God created good and evil, light and darkness, so darkness is there to show us how brilliant the light is, and in turn, we see God more clearly.  Judas, though he betrayed Jesus, was an agent of God doing God’s will.  Without Judas, there would have been no Jesus, Savior of the world.”

Milton had a question.  “So you are saying Satan and Judas are mere agents of God to cause trouble, but out of this trouble, good comes?”

“Exactly.  I will not bore you with other conclusions I have recently come to, but I have enough to fill a book.  I ascertain this to be truth.  There is no other conclusion to be drawn.” Gary looked like he knew it was hard to believe, but he seemed certain.

“Sounds like quite the rigmarole to resolve.  But you are the expert, not I.  I must concur with you on this, and I have taken note to look into it further,” Milton promised.

“If you do study it, it is a real labyrinth.  It will take your breath away like a cuirass,” Gary mentioned.

Milton did not know what a ‘cuirass’ was, but later, he would look the word up to find that it meant ‘artificial ventilator that forces air in and out of the lungs.’

“I am reluctant to leave you so soon.  I have found your insight enlightening.  Maybe we can speak on this more tomorrow.  I must finish my rounds,” Milton informed him.

Milton located Jim Morrow, who was the polar opposite of Gary.  Jim despised God.  He was angry, full of animosity.  He was an omen in itself, an omen of grave portent and had a security officer near him at all times.  Many thought Lewis, who had the episode earlier with the broken glass, was dangerous, but in contrast, Jim’s hallmark was not apathy.  He was a man with no impulse control.  He was a murderer, but for reason of insanity, he never spent a day in prison.  He somehow managed to get himself declared insane for life.

Jim was sitting alone as usual, rocking back and forth in front of the TV.  He could not tell you what was on the screen, but he never changed channels or allowed anyone else to change the channels.

Milton sat in a chair beside him.  “Jim, how are you today?” Jim grunted annoyingly, his frog-like neck swollen noticeably.

“Anything on your mind today?  Anything you would like to share?”  Milton watched Jim’s eyes as a portent to see if he was stepping over the invisible line that might set Jim off.

Uncharacteristically, Jim said, “The pills.  The pills, they do not keep us alive.  They are killing us.”

Milton saw that something was bearing on Jim’s mind and that this oppressive weight had dulled him.  It was an elevation of a malady, an acute bodily illness that Jim struggled with. Combined with peculiar sensibilities of temperament, intermingled with being prone to murder, Milton felt a bit uneasy conducting this interview.

“My heart is sickened,” Jim stated with overtones of abandonment and unredeemable value.

“That is not good to hear.  Just yesterday, I thought we had made some progress,” stated Milton.

“Yesterday is yesterday.  That is the past.  I am talking about now.  Right now,” he emphasized.

“Ridiculous.  What could have changed in 24 hours?” Milton remarkably found the courage to ask.

Jim was never superficial or manipulative.  Whatever his demons were, they were consistent. That thing that possessed him never changed, and neither did Jim until this conversation, when his nature seemed to have become more reflective.  In Milton’s eyes, he saw a man deteriorating in front of him.  Jim looked like a prisoner who overnight had become somehow decrepit with a fractured spirit, and something tiny left of his manhood was wriggling to escape, but the gap was closing in.  Milton was more than astonished.  Jim was shattered like a man that had been mentally penetrated, someone who was the butt of a despicable rumor and scorned.  He appeared soft, boneless, an insufferable man skulking behind a brawny frame.  The animosity he strongly had shown in the past was not even a trickle.  This once necrophiliac seemed unaroused, malformed.  Milton could not wrap his mind around how the most notorious guest of the facility was no longer accessible and had been replaced by this shell of a man.

“Night terrors come to me.  A black gummed hag with an icy touch,” Jim cringed and moaned, “I am not just cursed, I am damned.”

“Jim, tell me what has happened.”  Milton was troubled and genuinely concerned for Jim’s mental state.  It was not until this point that Jim pulled his hands out from his pockets to reveal the crimson stains of what appeared to be dried blood.  Milton leaped up.  He knew it was the wrong thing to do, but his flight instincts kicked in, and he retreated for safety.

“What unearthly thing have you done?” Milton asked.

“I am prone to it, they tell me,” Jim said, justifying whatever evil he had yet to admit to. Milton was stifled with gloom, wanting to call for help, but had to first catch his breath.

“She insulted me.  She said I was indiscriminately affectionate and had involuntary impulses.” These were relevant facts, most likely, but Milton had stopped taking notes.

Jim gestured for Milton to take a seat, and Milton did not argue.  Still with words knotted in his throat, Milton managed to ask, “Who is she?  What have you done?”

Jim rocked back and forth in his seat with nervous agitation.  “The Slender Man caused me to do it.  I had never seen him before.  I always knew there was something watching me then last night, he stepped out of the shadows.  These pills make me feel nothing.  I am tormented.  This is why I have acted out.”

“Who is it?  Where is she?” Milton asked, recognizing the agony upon Jim’s face.

“It was Nancy, nurse Nancy.  She is under my bed,” Jim admitted.

Milton was impaled with a sickness right in the pit of his gut as this permeating nightmare began to unfold.  He was as disgusted by Jim’s loathsomeness as he was about hearing about Nancy’s death.  He had always liked Nancy.  She was a new mother.

“Show me,” Milton said.  Jim stood without a word and, with slumped shoulders, obediently led the way out of the recreational center down the hallway to his room.  His door was closed. Milton held up his hand to indicate for Jim to remain in the hallway.  Jim complied.  Jim did not quarrel; from what Milton could ascertain, all of Jim’s fight had been left inside his room.

Milton entered, and it was as Jim said, except much worse.  The blood stains were everywhere.  There would be no need for investigators to use luminol; it was obvious this was a crime scene.  Milton had only stepped in the room, and not wanting to disturb or contaminate the crime scene, he backed out into the hallway and checked his shoes for blood.  Luckily, there were no signs.  He stooped down and saw the headless torso of Nancy beneath the bed, lifeless; the ichor had drained from her broken skin.

“Jim, it is not good, my friend.  You have crossed the line with this one,” Milton calmly said.

“No one is immortal,” Jim weirdly remarked.

Even more odd, Milton agreed.

“Where is her head, Jim?  What have you done with the head?”  Milton thought how ridiculous that sounded.  Never in his life would he ever have imagined that he would be asking a serial killer face-to-face where was the head of his last victim.

Jim took a look into the room as if he had no idea what I was talking about.

“Her head?  No way, man.  That was not me,” he professed with irradicable conviction.

This was a monstrous mess, and Milton had no choice but to proceed.  He settled Jim at the main nurse’s station and explained to the head of the department what Jim had confessed to and what he had uncovered in light of being taken to the scene of the murder.  Milton felt his heart going crazy in some sort of arrhythmic discord as if he were the guilty party.  But this was because Milton had not taken his meds on this day.

Because of the seriousness of the crime, acts of lasciviousness and murder, Jim would be leaving their facility, and Milton would have to relinquish the stethoscope he had acquired without approval.

Milton was an omnivorous patient of the facility himself who made his rounds daily masquerading as a doctor.  The patients were used to him playing doctor and treated him with more respect and leaned upon his expertise, advice, and diagnosis more than they did the nurses and counselors who actually operated the facility.

It would be a few weeks before Milton was allowed a stethoscope, a pad of paper and a pencil because of the severity of Jim’s heinous crime.  Milton was placed back on his regular medication and was happy to draft a report each day.

Milton could put his mask back on after the investigation had concluded and was allowed to practice his unsanctioned rounds throughout “Comfort House,” as long as, at the end of each day he gave his report to the head nurse and turned in his stethoscope.  It was understood by the staff that Milton was trusted by the residents, and he often found out more about what may be going on in the minds of the mentally disturbed than the staff could.

Milton had a way of taking the distortions and psychotic dreams that came to him in formless animated tales from the other patients and writing them on paper in such an uncontaminated way that the nurses could gain incredible insight.  His writings magnified what was too infinitesimal for the staff to see.  They seemed to see things through the wrong end of the telescope.  The deranged was not always outwardly crazy, and the crazies were not all introverts.  Milton made sure his reports reflected the distinction.

And concerning the missing head of Nancy the nurse… that is an unresolved mystery still.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Dale Thompson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Dale Thompson

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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